China has banned Canadian meat exports over concerns about the validity of export certificates.
The move could have a major impact on Canadian pig farmers.
Chinese authorities found residues of a banned feed additive, ractopamine, in pork, with an investigation revealing the official veterinary health certificates were counterfeit.
Canadian pork producers have been informed China will no longer be accepting their products, with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency stopping issuing export certificates to China for all pork and beef products as of June 25.
A spokesperson for the Canadian Pork Council said it was not a food safety concern, but the ‘misuse of Canada’s reputation as supplier of safe quality products’, with authorities suggesting the meat was not of Canadian origin.
Canada exported $514 million (£309m) of pork to China in 2018, with sales up 50 per cent in 2019.
“China is a very important market for Canadian producers,” it said.
“Demand for pork products remains strong in China, and Canadian producers look forward to having the opportunity to continue to meet the needs of our Chinese customers.”
The Chinese embassy said customs authorities found ractopamine in a batch of Canadian pork, with a subsequent investigation revealing counterfiet health certificates.
“The Canadian side believes this incident is a criminal offence,” it said.
As these had come through the official Canadian channel, it indicated there were loopholes in the system and had asked Canada to suspend issuing certificates for Chinese meat exports.
The embassy added it hoped Canada would attach ‘great importance’ to the incident and take measures to ensure the safety of Chinese exports ‘in a more responsible manner’.